My Ranking Points
Rachel was really, really pretty.
It had been hard to notice when Piper was caught up in Matthew, or Andros, or her own new evilness. But loosing Rachel…it felt like her heart was being ripped out. And when they all gathered around that cage, afraid of what the piper would do to them, Piper had only seen Rachel, smiling because her friends had come to find her.
Had she always looked like this? Of course she had, she wasn’t a completely new person just because Piper had decided to start noticing her.
Well, decided was a strong word. Piper had actually been doing her best not to notice Rachel, but it really wasn’t working.
The two girls had been walking for about an hour when they came to the beach they had known was coming. Waves were crashing gently on the shore, made light blue by the overwhelming glare of the sun. White crests topped them off, contrasting with the tan beads of sand. A light breeze whispered at the girls’ loose hair, but wasn’t strong enough to beat out the blistering heat. It was a sheer drop from the dirt and trees to the beach, and they had to help each other down. The stretch of ocean tides went as far out as they could see, with no creatures near enough to disturb them.
Piper stood, looking towards the horizon. Rachel, however, jumped immediately to action; rolling up the cuffs of her leggings and slipping off her socks and boots. She stepped into the ocean, and the waves rolled up to meet her bare calves. Rachel turned back to smile at Piper, hair blowing so it obscured half her face, and Piper felt an almost painful knot form in her stomach.
Rachel was almost waist deep now, not even looking at the occasional waves crashing on her crest and soaking her tunic. She beckoned to her friend and dove under the surface of the water.
Sighing, Piper followed her under. The water was cold, and she almost ran back to shore the second she got in up to her ankle. But then Rachel emerged, laughing and smiling like Piper had never seen her do before. So she followed, chasing her in and out of the building waves. Their bare legs and soaked tunics were slippery, and every time their bodies brushed underwater accidentally, it felt surprisingly nice. Rachel just kept smiling at her, and she couldn’t ever remember being this happy. She wasn’t supposed to make Piper feel this way, was she?
She pushed back under the water, and when she came back up, kicking a few yards away, Rachel was looking for shells in the shallows. So Piper stayed in deeper waters, pushing up little waves around her body and digging into the smooth sand with her toes.
She was on the shore now, lying in the sun while the water she carried soaked into the sand and made a puddle around her. Her face looked serious now, not happy and free.
Piper pushed through the water, feeling her hair float up around her one more time. The sand was so hot with the sunbeams on it, and Piper lay down beside Rachel on it.
“I…” she fiddled with the cloth at the base of her tunic, looking anywhere but at Piper. “I wanted to say that I’m sorry.”
“What does that mean? Did you do something wrong? Is anyone else okay?”
“No. I just…I was really jealous of you for a while. Andros liked you, just out of nowhere, and I had been trying to get him to acknowledge my existence since the first year. And then it looked like you liked him back. I guess I just always thought of you as an obstacle instead of a person who he liked for a reason and someone I could be friends with. But when I got kidnapped, I- I guess I realized that I missed you the most.”
We were quite for a minute, and all I could hear was the gentle ocean keeping us from home.
“So,” she looked at her friend this time, blue eyes drilling into Piper’s. “I know now that it isn’t your fault he likes you. And it isn’t your fault if you like him. So, not that you ever needed it, but…you have my permission to go after him all you want.”
“No, no. I spent so long trying to push him away he could never like me again. And I’ve had enough boy trouble for a lifetime.” Boy trouble. “Besides, I think he likes you now.”
“When did our conversations become so normal?”
They laughed quietly, never looking away from each other. Rachel was biting her lip again, looking at Piper through narrowed eyelids. Was she seeing Piper differently, today? Was this…
Piper stood up, and Rachel flew back to her spot at in the sand, pretending she hadn’t just leaned in.
“We should go check on the others.”
She nodded, and stood.
They started silently walking, a few feet between them. Shoes dangling from their hands, they hopped across the blazing sand, up to ledge, and into the woods. Piper felt so awkward, just walking and listening to the crunching leaves around them. But what was there to say?
Eventually, they reached the part of the woods they had portalled to. Merlin was there, leaning over Tasman with a concentration so deep, he didn’t notice that the girls had arrived.
“How is he?”
The wizard jumped, then sighed when he realized that it was just Rachel.
“It’s getting worse. I’m not sure how much longer it will take for the rest of him to be consumed by wood. A few days, at most. I’ve never seen anything like this before, and I doubt there’s anything I could do to help.”
“Have any of the others come back?”
“Thanks for noticing me, bestie.”
Piper turned to see Jared sitting behind her, smirking. He had gone off with Zathreen, grumbling and complaining. The Dean’s daughter was in the shade of a large oak, glowering at him. Piper didn’t want to imagine how their little expedition had gone. “Sorry, Jared. Did you find anything?”
Both shook their heads. “You?”
“Just a beach.”
* * *
“I went to the store with my little red wagon, and I bought a-“
Cali and Bree burst onto the beach, screaming and talking frantically over each other. They seemed happy, but I didn’t want to start hoping.
“Hush!” Jared woke up curled up on the ground to all the sound. “Stop talking at once!”
Cali smiled at Bree. “It’s not an island. We found a village, that way!”
“Did you guys find anything?”
Everyone else shook their heads, but nothing could dull the mood of freedom. Even Tasman, barely able to move was cheering.
“What about Brantler and Andros? Did they come back yet? Did they find anything, or just ocean like you guys?”
Cali was already crouched by Tasman, looking over the new mahogany spots on his skin. Piper could only imagine how much it must hurt for her, watching a guy she had met just a few weeks ago fall apart.
“Sorry, Cal.” Rachel sighed, and sat back down. They were going to get out! It would take a while, who knew where they were, or how far away they were from home. So they all sat back down, waiting for the boys.
And they came, hours later, covered in dirt and dried blood and talking about a monster. “And then it took its claw-“
“And it had this freaky tail-“
“Yeah, almost like a dinosaur-“
“And all I could do was-“
They paused, taking in the sight of all of their friends ogling at them. “Why are you all smiling?”
“They found people!”
Zathreen had hardly spoken since they’d broken out of the jail, but she seemed happier, now.
“Let’s go, then.” Cali had already started gathering their things. “Let’s get Tasman home.”
I honestly just can’t get over how well you portray your characters! SAFE to the max!!!!
Excellent job!! I ship Rachel and Piper with a passion even though this is the first thing I’ve read from you :’)